College & Career Readiness

At Desert Heights Preparatory Academy, our 5th-12th grade program is developed to prepare students for the next step in their educational journey. Our goal is to progressively expose students to resources that allow them to gain life skills, apply for scholarships as early as 5th grade and prepare them for college readiness tests, while also employing them with tools for college, career and social experiences.

As students enter high school, they begin to receive individual attention and access to an academic adviser to plan for their future, a rarity in traditional public schools. Advisory offers students an opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops designed to assist in the development of student’s post-graduation plans. From building resumes, learning interview skills, completing community service hours and applying for scholarships, students gain irreplaceable life skills. In addition to workshops, high school students frequently meet with their grade level adviser and annually attend several in-state college tours. College tours present an opportunity for students to explore options to help in narrowing down preferences. Furthermore, when needed, advisers work with teachers to identify individual student needs and provide a level of academic support by providing tools and resources to assist students in getting back on track.

This page is intended to provide students and parents with resources that offer students the competitive readiness advantage they deserve, whether they are planning for college or direct workforce entry.

*5th-8th Grade Roadmaps*Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment Coursework
*Grade Level Workshops (5th-12th)*College Preparation Tests, Testing Dates and Tips
*Education Career Action Plan (ECAP)*Financial Aid Assistance & Scholarships
*Early College Options*Senior Projects

Throughout the school year we offer a variety of workshops covering topics that are developmentally appropriate, based on age and need. While one grade may be learning about self esteem and conflict management, another could be engaged in resume writing and learning workforce skills. Each workshop is designed to help students think independently and build a life skills toolkit.

5th-8th Grade Workshops
We believe students are never too young to start thinking about college, but we know 5th-8th grade students also need guidance in navigating through social issues that arise.  To support this need, we offer students the following workshops:

  • Middle School (5th-6th Grade): 1 college based and 1 specialty workshop (e.g., cyber bullying, etc.)
  • Jr High (7th-8th Grade): 1 college based and 2 specialty workshops (e.g., cyber bullying, girls leadership, etc.)
  • 8th Grade: In addition to the Jr High workshops, 8th grade students will also experience 1 college speaker and 1 college tour

High School Workshops
High School students participate in monthly workshops covering topics like resume building, importance of GPA, interview skills, AZCIS, senior projects, scholarships, FAFSA, college applications, letters of recommendations, and so much more. In addition to these items, high school students also participate in the following:

  • 9th Grade – 2 College Speakers
  • 10th Grade – 3 College Speakers
  • 11th/12th  Grade – 4 College Speakers/year

School Activities
School events and activities are scheduled to further support our college readiness initiatives.

  • On Fridays, students are encouraged to participate in College Awareness Day (“CAD”) by wearing a college top and dress code appropriate bottoms.
  • At DHPA, November is Coyote College Campaign Month. With a focus on college awareness, all grade levels participate in pennant competitions, college trivia, classroom door competitions, create college future boards and more. High School students additionally host a college awareness activity for our younger kindergarten through 4th grade Coyotes at Desert Heights Charter School.
  • During our Annual College Fair, we feature a variety of local and out-of-state colleges, along with trade schools and military programs.

College tours expose our students to post-graduation options and the opportunity to evaluate college sizes, programs and types (2-year, 4-year, private, etc.). During the tours students hear from college representatives and ask questions of college professors and students. Locations vary throughout the student’s 4 years at DHPA, but will likely include Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, Arizona Christian University, Maricopa Community Colleges, Ottawa University, Midwestern University, St. Benedictine University, and more!

GradeNumber of College Tours
8th Grade1 Tour
9th Grade2 Tours
10th Grade3 Tours
11th/12th Grade4 Tours/Year
*Note: We also offer educational travel opportunities that allow students to visit out-of-state colleges.  Contact the front office for additional details.

We offer a variety of opportunities for all students to prepare for college exams by utilizing applications, college preparation toolkits, practice tests and more.

ACT Aspire
The ACT Aspire, available for 5th-10th grade students, is intended to provide students with a testing atmosphere that prepares them for the longevity and knowledge needed to be successful when taking the ACT test as a Junior.  We’ve learned that this test prep activity is an efficient and cost effective way for students to boost their confidence, while also exposing them to the concepts that allow them to improve ACT scores.

Practice SAT (“PSAT”) and Practice ACT (“PACT”) Tests
During their freshman and sophomore years, students are highly encouraged to complete the PSAT and PACT to have an understanding of both tests and to measure readiness for each.

ACT and SAT
The ACT and SAT tests are college admissions tests that measure what students have learned in high school to determine academic readiness for college. Additionally, these test scores are evaluated when colleges issue merit based scholarships. Through our advisory program and graduation requirements, all high school students are exposed to the importance of each exam and are provided with study resources. Click below for testing dates and locations.  Also, see the “College Prep Resources” section below for additional study tips and tools.

College Placement Exams
When students receive their college acceptances, advisers continue to provide support by guiding students through required placement tests, FAFSA applications and more.

Our high school program includes rigorous college credit opportunities through the CollegeBoard AP Program, Maricopa County Community Colleges and more.

Advanced Placement
Advanced Placement (“AP”) classes allow students to take college-level courses and earn college credit, advanced placement, or both while still in high school.  To qualify for the 5.0 weighted GPA scale available for AP courses, students must take the associated AP test which is $100/course. Additionally, to earn college credit, students must pass the test with the score designated by the student’s college of choice. We currently offer the following AP opportunities and plan to continue growing the program next school year.

*Note: See the “College Prep Resources” section below for AP study tips and tools.

ScienceSocial StudiesEnglishMathLanguage
AP BiologyAP European HistoryAP English Lang & CompAP Calculus ABAP German 4
AP ChemistryAP US HistoryAP English Lit & CompAP Calculus BC
AP Environmental ScienceAP US Gov't & Politics
AP Physics 1: Algebra-BasedAP Macroeconomics
AP Microeconomics
Dual Enrollment
In partnership with Maricopa County Community Colleges, we also offer dual enrollment courses. Dual enrollment classes provide high school students with college level coursework and credit, in a DHPA classroom, by a DHPA teacher.  These courses require students take the necessary college placement exam(s) and an $86/credit hour fee applies.  The following dual enrollment courses are currently being offered, but we plan to continue growing the program next school year.

Course*College CreditHigh School Credit
Math 151*4 Credits1 Credit
Spanish 101*4 Credits1 Credit
Spanish 102*4 Credits1 Credit
*Students enrolled in dual enrollment courses, earn college credit when completing the class with a passing grade per the Maricopa County Community Colleges policy.

Other College Coursework/Credit Opportunities
As a college preparatory program, we are continually looking for student opportunities to earn college credit and participate in rigorous coursework.  Students interested in any of the following options should communicate with their adviser for additional details.

  • DeVry University’s Passport2College Program offers junior and senior students an opportunity to earn college credit at no cost while in high school.
  • Achieving College Education (“ACE”) is a nationally recognized program that targets students that may not consider going to college and attaining a baccalaureate degree to be an achievable goal. Starting with their sophomore year, our advisory team works to identify qualified students and facilitates the process into the ACE program.
  • The HOOP of Learning program is committed to helping Native American students stay in school and pursue a college degree through the Maricopa County Community Colleges. Starting with their sophomore year, our advisory team works to identify qualified students and facilitates the process into the HOOP of Learning program.
  • High School advisers generate continual communication throughout the year regarding summer courses offered through Maricopa County Community Colleges, along with other local colleges.

Desert Heights requires 24 credits of high school study for graduation. This exceeds the minimum state requirement. High school students receive credit for a class upon earning a grade of 70% or higher. In addition, to earn credit for the term, 90% attendance is required in each assigned class (ARS 15-803B) and 90% of the work must be complete. Classes missed due to school approved activities, e.g., field trips, performing groups, student government, etc. are excluded. Administrators are authorized to excuse additional absences for extended illness, injury or extenuating circumstances upon satisfactory verification. In such cases, to receive credit, students are expected to make up missed work in a timely manner.

In addition to the academic requirements, students are also required to complete grade level requirements that include community service, attendance at college and career fairs, completion of college entrance exams (practice and actual), submission of scholarships or job applications and more.  Click each grade level for additional details.

SubjectCoursesCredits
EnglishEnglish I, II, III, IV or equivalent AP/Dual Enrollment coursework4
MathematicsAlgebra I, Geometry and Algebra II are required per the AZ Dept of Education. The 4th credit can be acquired by completing another approved DHPA math course or equivalent AP/Dual Enrollment coursework4
ScienceBiology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy, Biotechnology or equivalent AP/Dual Enrollment coursework
Note: 1 credit can be obtained from an elective science course (e.g., Forensics Science)
4
Social StudiesWorld History I, World History II, European History, American History, Economics (.5), Government (.5) or equivalent AP/Dual Enrollment coursework4
Fine Arts/Technology/CTEApproved DHPA courses or equivalent AP/Dual Enrollment coursework3
Foreign LanguageCredits must be obtained in the same language2
PE/HealthCredit can be earned by taking an approved Physical Education or Dance class1
ElectivesApproved DHPA courses or equivalent AP/Dual Enrollment coursework2
*Note: Students who transfer into high school must at minimum meet University credit requirements to graduate.  Administration will determine which courses from other schools attended prior to Desert Heights will receive credit. Additionally, students enrolled in Special Education, or those that qualified under Section 504 at any time during their 4 years of High School, can qualify for graduation using the Arizona State Graduation Requirements. All other students must qualify using the Desert Heights Graduation Requirements. 

Courtney Martin
Advisory Program Administrator

I believe every student deserves an opportunity to develop a 4-year plan to assist in the transition from high school to college, or career.  During high school, students will change their interests, have a lack of understanding of requirements, or the importance, and need to be given guidance and strategies that support life after high school.  My philosophy for advisory is that we build a well rounded team of advisers that listen and support all high school students while also challenging their thought process and providing big picture scenarios.

As the program administrator, I am responsible for accountability of the Advisory program to ensure all students receive the foundational support and skills they deserve, and need to be successful post-high school. I have observed too many students lose opportunity that impacted their ability to be successful; this is unacceptable to me.  My primary goal is to ensure the advisory team works with students to ensure they leave this program with a solid understanding of their 4-year plan, which fosters responsibility in our students and provides them with a starting point to be successful in college or career, whichever they decide.

Stephanie Delion
Freshman Adviser

As a member of the Advisory team, I am excited to support students and provide them with a variety of resources and tools.  As the freshman adviser I am presented with the unique opportunity to help students from the very beginning in mapping out their 4-year plan while also helping students identify the necessary steps to achieve their end goal. I focus students on gaining a better understanding of their personal interests and the importance of GPA. Also, freshman workshop topics typically relate to college assessment readiness and organizational skills, with an additional emphasis on note taking strategies (Cornell and subject styles) to help students better prepare for all assessments.

Amanda Brownlow
Sophomore Adviser

During the sophomore year, we begin focusing on the importance of preparing for the ACT/SAT through practice along with discussing early college opportunities.  We dive further into AzCIS and gain a better understanding of the high school graduation requirements.  From understanding GPA, credits and transcripts, we hope students begin to see the importance of investing in their education. Workshop content includes resume building, interview skills and scholarships. Dual enrollment and advanced placement courses, along with summer college opportunities are also common discussions during student meetings throughout the year.

Michelle Robles
Junior & Senior Adviser

As the junior class adviser, I am a resource for students to explore all of their options after high school. Whether it be college, the military or vocational training, we give tools to students to research their interests and narrow them down, so as they transition to senior year they have started to formulate a plan. In addition, we discuss the importance of taking assessments like the ACT/SAT to help students qualify for a variety of academic based scholarships. During workshops, students are tasked with researching scholarships while also being challenged to play a more active role in their future planning. Students also explore the many different college options open to them by attending several field trips to learn more about particular schools in Arizona.

When a student starts their high school adventure, they start off learning strategies, tools and tactics to be successful. Throughout their 4-years students are guided to determine their post-high school path (college, career, military, etc.). By the time they become seniors, I work with students to further solidify their path while also breaking down college financial options (subsidized and non-subsidized), targeting colleges that fit both the student’s interest and desired culture, as well as, focus on time management.

As seniors navigate through their last year of high school, and the college acceptance and entrance process, there are frequent check-ins so I can provide guidance on how they plan to market and implement their senior project. Aligned with the school’s ultimate goal, I hope to provide the appropriate guidance and support that allows all students to successfully complete their exit interview and ultimately graduate.


We believe it’s never
too early to start planning!

AP Study Materials

In addition to the class specific items listed below, it is highly recommended students participate in teacher hosted study sessions and they are encouraged to create study groups. Study groups allow students to work with classmates to better understand concepts and learn from each other.

AP English Language & Composition

  • Review and complete the exam practice located on the CollegeBoard website.

AP English Literature & Composition

  • Review and complete the exam practice located on the CollegeBoard website.

In addition to the class specific items listed below, it is highly recommended students participate in teacher hosted study sessions and they are encouraged to create study groups. Study groups allow students to work with classmates to better understand concepts and learn from each other.

AP Calculus AB

  • Purchase the Barron’s AP Calculus, 14th Edition test prep book.
  • Purchase the Cracking the AP Calculus AB Exam, 2017 Edition test prep book.
  • Review the Khan Academy AP Calculus AB sections and go through the free response questions with each section.
  • Review and complete the exam practice located on the CollegeBoard website.
  • Essential Calculus Exam Tips:
    • Show your work, even when using a calculator. Show all steps taken to reach the solution on questions involving calculations. The exam reader wants to see students know how to solve the problem. If the calculator is used to solve an equation, compute a numerical derivative, or find a definite integral, be sure to write the equation, derivative, or integral first: an answer without this information might not get full credit, even if the answer is correct. Remember to write your work in standard notation rather than calculator syntax, as calculator syntax is not acceptable.
    • Be sure to fully answer the question being asked. For example, if a question asks for the maximum value of a function, do not stop after finding the x-value at which the maximum value occurs. Be sure to express your answer in correct units if units are given and always provide a justification when it is asked for.
    • When asked to justify or to explain an answer, think about how that can be done. For example, if you are asked to justify a point of inflection, you need to show that the sign of the second derivative changes. Simply saying that the second derivative equals zero or is undefined is not a justification.
    • Do not round partial answers. Store partial answers in your calculator so that you can use them unrounded in further calculations.

AP Calculus BC

  • Purchase the Barron’s AP Calculus, 14th Edition test prep book.
  • Purchase the Cracking the AP Calculus AB Exam, 2017 Edition test prep book.
  • Review the Khan Academy AP Calculus BC sections and go through the free response questions with each section.
  • Review and complete the exam practice located on the CollegeBoard website.
  • Essential Calculus Exam Tips:
    • Show your work, even when using a calculator. Show all steps taken to reach the solution on questions involving calculations. The exam reader wants to see students know how to solve the problem. If the calculator is used to solve an equation, compute a numerical derivative, or find a definite integral, be sure to write the equation, derivative, or integral first: an answer without this information might not get full credit, even if the answer is correct. Remember to write your work in standard notation rather than calculator syntax, as calculator syntax is not acceptable.
    • Be sure to fully answer the question being asked. For example, if a question asks for the maximum value of a function, do not stop after finding the x-value at which the maximum value occurs. Be sure to express your answer in correct units if units are given and always provide a justification when it is asked for.
    • When asked to justify or to explain an answer, think about how that can be done. For example, if you are asked to justify a point of inflection, you need to show that the sign of the second derivative changes. Simply saying that the second derivative equals zero or is undefined is not a justification.
    • Do not round partial answers. Store partial answers in your calculator so that you can use them unrounded in further calculations.

In addition to the class specific items listed below, it is highly recommended students participate in teacher hosted study sessions and they are encouraged to create study groups. Study groups allow students to work with classmates to better understand concepts and learn from each other.

AP Biology

  • Review the Khan Academy AP Biology sections and go through the free response questions with each section.
  • Review and complete the exam practice located on the CollegeBoard website.

AP Chemistry

  • Purchase the 5 Steps to a 5: AP Chemistry 2018 test prep book.
  • Read one section a week and do the practice problems at the end.
  • In addition, review the Khan Academy AP Chemistry sections and go through the free response questions with each section.
  • Review and complete the exam practice located on the CollegeBoard website.
  • The month before the test, complete at least two practice tests that can be found in the book.

AP Environmental Science

  • Review and complete the exam practice located on the CollegeBoard website.

AP Physics I: Algebra-Based

In addition to the class specific items listed below, it is highly recommended students participate in teacher hosted study sessions and they are encouraged to create study groups. Study groups allow students to work with classmates to better understand concepts and learn from each other.

AP United States History

  • Purchase the Kaplan AP U.S. History 2017-2018 test prep book.
  • Read at least one chapter a week from the test prep book. Take notes on what’s being read by either highlighting in the book, writing notes in the margins or in a notebook.
  • Do at least 2 practice essays a month.  The test prep book has questions with examples of good essays.  In addition, students can give teachers essays to grade and provide feedback on how to improve.  The essay portion of the test is half the AP test grade so doing this will help students achieve the best grade possible.
  • Review the Khan Academy AP US History sections and go through the free response questions with each section.
  • Review and complete the exam practice located on the CollegeBoard website.

AP United States Government & Politics

  • Purchase the Barrons AP Government and Politics, 10th Edition test prep book.
  • Read at least one chapter a week from the test prep book. Take notes on what’s being read by either highlighting in the book, writing notes in the margins or in a notebook.
  • Do at least 2 practice FRQ’s a month.  The prep book has questions with examples of good FRQ. In addition students can give teachers the FRQ’s to grade and provide feedback on how to improve. The FRQ portion of the test is half the AP test grade so doing this will help students achieve the best grade possible.
  • Review and complete the exam practice located on the CollegeBoard website.

AP Macroeconomics

AP Microeconomics

AP European History

  • Review and complete the exam practice located on the CollegeBoard website.

College Prep Resources

The following tools are available for all Kindergarten-12th grade students and are related to academic content and behavior, postsecondary and career awareness, self-management and life skills and financial and civic literacy.

Students should research their school of choice to determine the appropriate way of applying.  Arizona colleges typically have online applications available on their website, but students interested in exploring a variety of out-of-state options might consider using one of the following resources to apply for acceptance to numerous colleges using a single application.

QuestBridge is also a powerful platform that connects the nation’s brightest students from low-income backgrounds with leading institutions of higher education and further opportunities.

Additionally, students can leverage several resources available in their AzCIS account; specifically the application checklist is a great resource.

Scholarships come in a variety of shapes and sizes and there are countless reasons why a student may need to apply for financial aid, or receive gifted funding to attend college.  Our advisory team works each year to educate students on the importance of applying for scholoarships but since the #1 trend in students not receiving scholarships is procrastination and simply missing the deadlines; we’d like to share some valuable resources to support our students and parents through navigating this step.

Why are scholarships important?

Scholarships provide an opportunity for many people to earn an education. Without assistance from an outside source, students may have trouble paying for the degree they need in order to enter the workforce and become a contributing member of society.

Where can students begin looking for scholarships?

  • All 9th-12th students have an AzCIS account that lists hundreds of scholarships at their fingertips. Students can reference the Financial Aid Sort section for assistance.
  • Students planning to attend a Maricopa County Community College can access the Foundation Scholarship Application Portal for scholarships opportunities.
  • College Rank provides a list of scholarship websites for students to leverage in their search for scholarships.

How can I find scholarships that are tailored for me?

  • By utilizing the AzCIS portal, students can filter scholarships located under the Education tab, “Where can I get help paying for school?” and then under the Financial Aid Sort. Following these steps hundreds of scholarships are filtered and targeted to fit the students interests. Be mindful though, when too detailed the system may limit your choices.
  • Using Scholarships.com students can complete a free profile to get matched to scholarships and grants from colleges, universities, organizations, foundations, corporations, government and more.
  • Add your achievements to RaiseMe to also earn scholarships and discover colleges!

Why should I look for scholarships?
Remember these scholarships that we are sharing and many others are considered private scholarships that are extra funds to help you pay for your education. This is on top of any other academic or athletic scholarships that you might get offered through the school directly. Applying and getting scholarships can also help reduce the amount of financial aid/student loans you receive that you would have to pay back.

Never let money be the factor that prevents you from attending college. There are grants, loans, scholarships, financial aid and other ways to pay for higher education. By utilizing the links below, students can leverage the information to find which financial aid options work best for them.

In addition to the tools above, colleges typically provide “calculators” relative to what their program offers for scholarships.  Below are examples of useful tools from ASU for reference.  Check your college of choice’s website; they likely have similar resources.

Senior Projects

At Desert Heights Preparatory Academy, seniors are required to focus on a Senior Exit Interview as one of their graduation requirements. Each senior will select a cause important to them, identify what they can do to support or sponsor it, and create an awareness while impacting and making a difference.  Each student will be challenged to find ways to use social media in a positive light to spread awareness and they will write a community about their cause to encourage others to support it.

These activities will culminate into a presentation of their work in front of their peers and administration the last week of school. Presentations will exhibit creative ability, critical thinking, and communication skills while demonstrating a clear understanding of the essential activities needed to achieve career and life goals.

Take a minute to review some of the projects to see how our seniors are working to change the world!

Project NameDescriptionSeniorInstagram
Saving SmilesHelping kids in need, one toothbrush at a timeKarena Janson@_saving_smiles
Prematurity AwarenessHelp fight premature birth and lower the death rates just by being awareMarina Jado@prematurityawarness_dhpa
Fostering HopeRaising funds to start a Special Olympics horse riding team for Fostering HopeTrevor McFarlane@trevor_mcfarlane_project
You’re Not AloneNew Life Pregnancy Center helps single mothers to realize they are not aloneEmily Ogden@nlpc_awareness
Buckeye Kennel ProjectBuilding dog houses and cleaning up the City of Buckeye police department dog kennelsJacob Nicholas@buckeye_kennel_
Kids of TomorrowSupporting kids in need and gathering donations for the Phoenix Children's ProjectNellie Nano@kidsoftmw
HopeCreating awareness and supporting those with Type 1 diabetesChase Cools@hope_awareness_for_t1d
The Healing ButterflyPreventing self harm by drawing a butterfly on the spot where you self harm and naming it after someone you loveEmma Fry@emmarosefry
Got Empathy?Partnering with Peer Solutions spreading kindness and acceptance everywhere Jennalee Wilson@got_empathy_
ConnectionsMake a difference by inspiring people to disconnect from their devices and start communicating againCortney Loveridge@connections_lead
A War for Men's MindsDevelop an awareness and support for men suffering from depressionColten Warnock@awar4mensminds
Born Again BooksUsing reading to disconnect from the virtual world and recharge your batteriesJakkob Madaras@born.again.books
Hidden in Plain Sight Creating awareness on human trafficking as a modern way of slavery.Mark Brown @hiddeninplainsight__
Paws for a Cause Importance of supporting our animal rescue and shelters by giving loving animals a homeAlexis Tatum @paws4acause_
DVD 4 Vet's Helping our wounded Vet's when they return home with entertainment Shane Weiss @dvds4vets_dhpa18